When we beat the Clippers and were set to face the Thunder without Russell Westbrook I thought we had a good chance to win. But I didn't think we would beat a good team in 5 games. Westbrook is a good player. But they are still a very good team, in large part because Kevin Durant is a great player, just behind LeBron James. And even though the Griz won in 5 games, all 5 were close games at the end. We were definitely the better team. But they weren't far off.
The Griz won the same way they always do, with grit and grind. That means throwing it down in the post to Gasol and Randolph, or Gasol in the high post. Or it means running screens for Mike Conley and letting him create something. Defensively it means letting Tony Allen do what he does best and having Gasol guard the paint in case someone gets by Allen, Conley or Prince. And once the shot goes up we have pretty good rebounders at each position, a very good one in Randolph.
The only weakness I see in this team is 3 point shooting on both ends. Defensively we leave 3 point shooters open too much. Late last night we left Derek Fisher (I'm not sure why he was in the game. But thanks Scott Brooks) wide open several times. That happened throughout the series. And that could be a big problem facing either the Spurs or Warriors, both of whom shoot the 3 very well. Offensively we don't have many good 3 point shooters. Conley is pretty good. But Allen and Prince aren't, which kind of hurts since it would probably make it a bit easier on ZBo and Gasol if they could pass to shooting threats out of the post. That was always the hope with Rudy Gay, that he would be that shooting threat to take pressure of them. But he just didn't shoot efficiently enough to do that.
Quincy Pondexter is a good 3 point shooter. But Lionel Hollins likes Tayshaun Prince's defense too much to give Pondexter more minutes. I can understand that when we are playing Kevin Durant. But I think Pondexter could help more against our next opponent. Whoever that team is I'm almost certain they will give us a longer series than the Thunder did. Both are better offensively right now than the Thunder. The Spurs probably aren't much worse than the Thunder defensively. And I would bet that Andrew Bogut will give both ZBo and Gasol more problems than Perkins and Ibaka did. Both teams also have better offensive players. They both have a lot of shooting depth. And stars like Tony Parker and Steph Curry can go off almost as well as Durant.
So it will be tough to get to the Finals. We are going to have to play very well to win each game. And even if we do play well might not be enough sometimes, like game 1 against the Thunder. But at worst the Griz will give the Spurs or Warriors a tough series. This is the furthest the franchise has ever gone in the playoffs. And everyone here in Memphis is excited to see if we can keep making history. We'll be here anxiously awaiting the Spurs or Warriors, waiting to follow the lead of The Grindfather.